Today, Friday 21st March marks the first day of my voice and speech therapy sessions with the very talented and experienced Matthew Mills (linkedin) at the London GIC (West London Mental Health). My aims is to re-tune my spoken and singing voice, add a little more femininity to my overall character, after all there’s no point passing only to sound somewhat boyish. The session started around 4:00 pm and lasts an hour. During this time I was given a briefing on what’s gonna happen, together with a quick run through to update their records as to where I am in my transition. We talked about the effects of a name change, asked about exploring my adopted roles, acceptance in society and how other peoples are identifying me.
My answers to those questions went something like this… I explained throughout my life, I’ve always experience some level of mis-gendering either by my extended family, family friends or by other people. That it doesn’t matter if I’m in the gym or at the mall; that someone somewhere will assume I’m female, occasionally someone would complain regarding the misuse of changers or washrooms and that I get escorted out of public washrooms because I don’t fit into the binary norms due to my physical traits of being born intersex and slightly androgynous – It happens. Modern western society has been conditioned, with the help of the media, to believe that “Nikita” is an acceptable female name, even though it’s origins were used for boys, in-turn he told me he didn’t know. I continued to explained what one decides to call themselves was rather irreverent as it’s only used to address us and most people unknowingly make metal judgments from what they see and hear as to address someone as a male or female. I explained that I haven’t yet gone full-time but folks in the streets have been passing me for years regardless. Efforts has been made to learn to walk in heels, ongoing experimentation with makeup, working on my desired appearance as I explore my role.
He also asked what I’d like to get out or achieve from those sessions. At first I felt a little intimidated as I wasn’t sure what was meant (blonde moment), then I explained my primary objective is to learn how to transform my immature boyish voice into a convincing female sounding one while still maintaining good clarity and perhaps improve breathe control as I wish to continue to do all the things I enjoy. Such as singing in the bathroom or whilst I’m ecstatically happy- Who doesn’t?
My session started with a quick explanation on how humans create a voice, what controls it and how we manipulate those vibrations into audible words. Followed by various functions of our voice-box (larynx), it’s construction, the uses of the mouth, teeth and tiny bones in our faces.. with given examples of how he’s able to change his voice and accent – All adding to my confidence that I can achieve this with some guidance. Then I’m taught how I can listen to my own voice without the uses of a recording device. Next came some frequency measurements with some device he strapped to my throat.. It’s here he realized I don’t have a prominent Adam’s apple – Actually it’s almost invisible. 😀
Various digital recordings where made during the session first with a simple counting task, then reading and finally a short question and answer time. All this to determine my vocal range and pitch. He later informs an “androgynous” pitch was around (140-145 Hz) and the minimum acceptable female pitch was 160 Hz and upwards, ideally 170-180 Hz. He informs me of my pitch as 135 Hz with a range varying from 125 – 190 Hz. I’m told I have a good hearing, a healthy and workable voice and with lots of potentials.
He then proceeded to create a new file/record to track record of my performance as I improvements with each session. Then he made bookings for my next session… Many weeks prior to this session I posted a thread on Susan’s but no-one seem to care.. Oh well, so screw them. I’m doing this for me and anyone else who cares to read my ramblings. 🙂
About Matthew Mills
Lead Specialist Speech and Language Therapist at the Gender Identity Clinic, London
Matthew Mills BA (Hons) MSc AGSM LTCL Mus Ed cert. MRCSLT Reg.HCPC
Matthew is Lead Specialist Speech and Language Therapist (Transgender Voice and Communication) at the Gender Identity Clinic, London where he has worked since 2009. He is also a voice coach and musician and teaches actors at voice coaches at Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, London. He teaches speech and language therapy students at the University of Greenwich. He originally trained as an actor and singer at Guildhall School of Music & Drama and worked in theatre film and television for 15 years.